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Radiomic signatures from T2W and DWI MRI are predictive of tumour hypoxia in colorectal liver metastases.

BACKGROUND: Tumour hypoxia is a negative predictive and prognostic biomarker in colorectal cancer typically assessed by invasive sampling methods, which suffer from many shortcomings. This retrospective proof-of-principle study explores the potential of MRI-derived imaging markers in predicting tumour hypoxia non-invasively in patients with colorectal liver metastases (CLM).

METHODS: A single-centre cohort of 146 CLMs from 112 patients were segmented on preoperative T2-weighted (T2W) images and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI). HIF-1 alpha immunohistochemical staining index (high/low) was used as a reference standard. Radiomic features were extracted, and machine learning approaches were implemented to predict the degree of histopathological tumour hypoxia.

RESULTS: Radiomic signatures from DWI b200 (AUC = 0.79, 95% CI 0.61-0.93, p = 0.002) and ADC (AUC = 0.72, 95% CI 0.50-0.90, p = 0.019) were significantly predictive of tumour hypoxia. Morphological T2W TE75 (AUC = 0.64, 95% CI 0.42-0.82, p = 0.092) and functional DWI b0 (AUC = 0.66, 95% CI 0.46-0.84, p = 0.069) and b800 (AUC = 0.64, 95% CI 0.44-0.82, p = 0.071) images also provided predictive information. T2W TE300 (AUC = 0.57, 95% CI 0.33-0.78, p = 0.312) and b = 10 (AUC = 0.53, 95% CI 0.33-0.74, p = 0.415) images were not predictive of tumour hypoxia.

CONCLUSIONS: T2W and DWI sequences encode information predictive of tumour hypoxia. Prospective multicentre studies could help develop and validate robust non-invasive hypoxia-detection algorithms.

CRITICAL RELEVANCE STATEMENT: Hypoxia is a negative prognostic biomarker in colorectal cancer. Hypoxia is usually assessed by invasive sampling methods. This proof-of-principle retrospective study explores the role of AI-based MRI-derived imaging biomarkers in non-invasively predicting tumour hypoxia in patients with colorectal liver metastases (CLM).

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